Texans-Dolphins — Four Things to Watch For

Texans-Dolphins — Four Things to Watch For
Marco Torres

So, Texans fans, let's assess the week so far — we had a division win over Jacksonville on Sunday, followed by the re-signing of Charles James on Monday, the J.J. Watt E:60 feature on Tuesday night, and finally DeAndre Hopkins honored as AFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

Hey, I'll go ahead and say it —- this has been a pretty damn good week to be a Texans fan!

Now, the Texans move on to Miami to take on a Dolphins team that is feeling pretty good about themselves after a 38-10 rout of Tennessee in Nashville last Sunday in Dan Campbell's first game as interim head coach. If the Texans win this game, it means they will run their record to 3-0 against teams in Florida, which should get them some sort of Florida-related memento, like a trophy in the shape of a mobile meth lab or something. 

Let's take a look at a few story lines to keep an eye on this Sunday afternoon…

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4. Texans offensive line shuffle
Against Jacksonville, the Texans started their 57th different permutation of personnel on the offensive line this season. (That number is made up, but feels very real.) This time, it was Brandon Brooks moving over to left guard, Derek Newton sliding inside to right guard and Chris Clark starting at right tackle. (Duane Brown and Ben Jones kept their normal spots at left tackle and center.) All of this shuffling, which can be directly traced to Xavier Su'a-Filo's inability to play football, has strangely enough yielded really solid results in pass protection and predictably shaky results trying to run the football. They'll need to have the pass protection honed on Sunday with Dolphins pass rusher Cameron Wake coming off a four-sack game against the Titans. 

3. Brian Hoyer consistency
For the first time all season, the Texans' quarterback position feels like it's on somewhat solid ground, following Hoyer's 293-yard, three-touchdown, turnover-free effort against the Jags. (And as soon as I say that, I know that Hoyer is now a lock to throw two picks in the first quarter on Sunday.) The next two games against the Dolphins and Titans are games that the Texans should be good enough to win with mere game management out of the QB position. Hoyer needs to stay solid, make the right reads and do the unthinkable for Texans quarterbacks so far this season — string together two good starts.

2. Defend the run
The Texans' front seven has been shoddy defending the run so far this season. The best thing I can say about their run defense is that at least they took care of business against a T.J. Yeldon-less Jags offense last weekend. Lamar Miller ran for 113 yards last week against the Titans. If their offensive line gets cranked up, the Dolphins have the ability to move the ball on the ground against the Texans. With Jadeveon Clowney possibly out again this week, stopping the run won't be easy, but if they're able to get the Dolphins into bad down and distance situations, QB Ryan Tannehill has been generous this season, throwing seven picks so far. 

1. DeAndre Hopkins
One-on-one match-ups are always fun, and Hopkins versus Brent Grimes should be a treat. It's still amazing how teams aren't running two guys at Hopkins routinely, but they haven't been. Grimes seems like the type of personality who will embrace the challenge of going heads up with the NFL's leading receiver (yardage-wise). And if for some reason Grimes needs some backup, he can always count on his wife to bring her own brand of crazy

PREDICTION: Texans 24, Dolphins 23

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.                 

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